Shark Cage-Diving Safety Regulations Desperately Needed in South Africa
- Supreme Court of Appeals, South African Maritime Safety Authority & South African Tourism Board
- South Africa
My husband Chris, (and our best man, Casey,) were two of three tourists killed in a very negligent shark cage diving accident in South Africa on 04/13/08. Chris and I had only been married for five months and we were three weeks away from our Italian honeymoon.
After their shark cage diving accident, I was shocked to learn that there are (still) no maritime safety regulations in the most exhilarating yet dangerous segment of South African tourism - the shark cage diving industry. Approximately 70,000+ tourists go shark cage diving every year in South Africa, and shark cage diving tour companies operate in a very high risk environment with: great white sharks, chum, large 4+meter swells, anchoring in foul ground, breaking waves - and many paying tourists/passengers/children onboard.
On 04/13/08, all tourists onboard had completed their shark cage dives, however, the skipper and videographer wanted additional underwater camera footage of the sharks....most likely to market more DVD's to their passengers. So, they remained anchored over a large reef in 4+ meter swells with breaking/feathering waves all around them. The skipper was so focused on chumming the water and attracting sharks to the cage, that he failed to notice that the swells had become increasingly large and nearby boats were disappearing in between sets of waves - putting all passengers on the boat in danger. Therefore, it is not surprising that their shark cage diving boat was capsized by a large 5+ meter wave and all 19 passengers were thrown into shark infested waters - with the videographer still in the cage.
6 years after their accident, my shark diving case finally went to trial in Cape Town in 2014, and it was a marathon 52 day trial. On 12/23/2014, the skipper and boat owners were charged with 15+ counts of negligence as it was shown during the trial that their accident could have been easily avoided. It was a bittersweet victory.
You can view the entire 2014 Cape Town WCHC trial ruling by clicking the following link. http://tiny.cc/2014TrialRuling
Surprisingly, shark cage diving safety regulations still were not reviewed and implemented after the trial, even though it was shown numerous times that another accident could easily happen if maritime safety regulations and operating protocols are not established.
The shark diving boat owners & attorneys filed an appeal, and in Feb 2016, my shark diving case went to the Supreme Court of Appeals in South Africa. Unfortunately, the 5 SCA judges chose to overlook the majority of the 2014 Cape Town trial ruling, a multitude of facts/evidence/photos/videos in the case and dismissed all charges against the skipper and boat owners - without even addressing all of the negligence charges in the ruling. The Supreme Court of Appeals overturned all 15+ charges of negligence. To date, the SCA has not provided a reason why they did not review or rule on any of the numerous negligence charges against the boat owners.
Therefore, I am petitioning to the President of the Supreme Court of Appeals of South Africa, the Office of the Chief Justice and a Supreme Court mediator to review the entire 2014 shark cage diving trial ruling, 2015 Supreme Court Heads of Argument, 2016 Constitutional Court affidavits and other critical emails and facts in this 9 yr shark cage diving case.
We, the undersigned, call on the Office of the Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Appeals, South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and South African Tourism Board to review and implement shark cage diving safety regulations for all shark cage diving tour operators in South Africa, which will protect the safety of all tourists as well as those who work in the shark cage diving industry on a daily basis.
Approximately 70,000+ tourists go shark cage diving every year in South Africa and shark cage diving tour companies operate - for profit - in a very high risk industry with: great white sharks, chum in the water, large swells, anchoring in foul ground, breaking waves and with many paying tourists/passengers/children onboard.
We are calling on your organization(s) to:
Establish a shark cage diving safety task force to review and implement maritime safety regulations which will govern and protect the shark cage diving industry.
Key points listed below highlight some of the safety regulations that are needed, based on what was learned from the 2008 shark cage diving boat capsize and consequent 2014 Cape Town trial.
Including but not limited to the following:
- Require shark cage diving tour companies to put safety at the forefront of their business. All staff, volunteers and boat owners must be fully trained/certified by SAMSA for their position at all times. Additional on-going training as needed based upon position.
- Require skippers and boat owners to operate their tours with the correct boating license(s) for shark cage diving tours at all times.
- Require tour passenger manifests for all shark cage diving tours. A daily passenger manifest to be issued to:
- skipper of the shark cage diving tour
- shark cage diving business office
- Harbor master upon departure
- We are requesting that the Office of the Chief Justice, the President of the Supreme Court of Appeals, South African Maritime Safety Authority and South African Tourism Board review, uphold and enforce any and all negligence claims brought against the skipper and boat owners in the 2014 shark cage diving Cape Town WCHC trial ruling.
You can view the entire trial ruling and the Supreme Court Heads of Argument by clicking the links below.
Thank you for reviewing this petition. We thank you for addressing and implementing critically needed maritime safety regulations which will protect all tourists as well as those who work in the shark cage diving industry.
The Shark Cage-Diving Safety Regulations Desperately Needed in South Africa petition to Supreme Court of Appeals, South African Maritime Safety Authority & South African Tourism Board was written by Sarah Tallman and is in the category International Affairs at GoPetition.